Benoit, Peter

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Peter Benoit was born at Harlebeke on 17 August 1834 and died in Antwerp on 8 March 1901. He was, without doubt, the most important Flemish composer of the nineteenth century, responsible for the foundation of a Flemish national school of music. He studied at the Brussels Conservatory, where his teachers included Fétis, and won the Grote Rome Prize, the highest musical distinction in Belgium. He made use of the money from the prize for a study tour through Germany and Bohemia and afterwards settled in Paris where, in 1862, he became conductor of the Buffes-Parisiens. The following year he returned to Brussels and achieved phenomenal success with his Quadrilogie religieuse for choir and orchestra and with the oratorio of 1866, Lucifer. From then onwards he laid aside instrumental music and concentrated almost exclusively on vocal and choral music with Flemish texts. In 1867 he settled in Antwerp, where he was appointed director of the local music school, which under his leadership became the Royal Flemish Music Conservatory. In addition to his activity as a composer, he proved himself to be a remarkable educator, conductor and music administrator.

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